By By Andrea Toven
Luther Seminary, 2000
Introduction: The Christian church was once just that — the Christian church. East and west were united to one another, sharing a common set of beliefs for the first four hundred years of its existence. The phrase processio spiritus sancti ex patre filioque, translated from Latin as “the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son”, represented a turning point in the history of Christianity. This phrase, specifically the word “filioque”, was a major contributing factor in the schism between the eastern and western churches.
The doctrine of double procession cannot be understood when considered apart from Augustine’s thought. Augustine, without knowing it, may have set off this controversy which ultimately led to the split between the eastern and western churches. A commentator on Photius believed that every crisis and change in thought in the western church could be traced back to Augustine. In his treatise, De Trinitate, he drew upon Scripture and logic to argue in favour of double procession. According to Augustine, the procession of the Holy Spirit was as true from the Son as it was from the Father. Primordially, the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, who then gave the Son the ability to produce the Holy Spirit.